Sami had driven past his former shop a couple times, but he hadn’t stopped to really look at what was left of his business.
The truth is, there wasn’t much to look at. The only thing we could find was a single broken kettle. It survived thousands of cups of tea served to Sami’s customers, but it didn't survive ISIS.
It was his nightly routine for years. After supper was eaten and the dishes washed, after the evening visitors had come to enjoy tea and conversation, after the children were tucked into bed and his wife began yawning, Sami moved through his home to make sure it was secure for the night. He checked the front gate to make sure it was bolted closed. He did the same at the front door, and then made sure the windows were secure.
This story from PBS NewsHour is worth your time. Please take a few minutes to watch it starting at the 10-minute mark.
News coverage of the crisis in Iraq and Syria has been rare since the battle for Mosul officially ended. And when camera crews pack up and journalists move on to the next story, the world’s attention goes with them. It makes sense. Perception is reality, as they say, and it can seem like things must be ‘better’ in Iraq now that Mosul is free.
Last month’s declaration of military victory in Mosul was a major milestone. But after nine months of warfare, thousands are dead. Much of the city is in ruins. And ISIS remains a threat in Mosul.
You’ve continued to show up with love and support for weary families who were trapped until the end. You did this and much, much more in cities across Iraq, as families recover, repair, and rebuild.
Here are some of the highlights from the last month:
Across Iraq, families have fled violence or find themselves living in cities recently liberated from ISIS control. Men need to find new jobs because their old way of life is gone. Many women are having to shoulder the responsibility of providing for their families alone because their husbands and sons did not survive. As they look at their options, you have come alongside to give encouragement—and fire-up their imaginations.
When we first met many of our refugee friends in northern Iraq, they were desperate. They had barely escaped genocide at the hands of ISIS, and they were asking us for food rations, formula for their babies, and money for medical expenses.
Then you showed up. Now, thanks to your partnership and their hard work—making soap, farming, and knitting—many of them are well on their way to independence again.
They were nearly at the end of their training course—eight men who learned how to build with aluminum and PVC. Their last assignment was to work together to complete a real project for a real client. They read the brief together, visited the site, and took measurements together. The social worker who commissioned a ‘child-friendly space’ to be built in the local juvenile detention center knew exactly what she wanted—our students needed to deliver.
Daod winces each time he shifts his thin frame on the sleeping mat. There isn’t much padding between his bones and the cool concrete floor below.
Daod is 17. He lives in Mosul, is a big fan of Lionel Messi and loves to watch prank shows on TV. And he’s been fighting cancer for the last three years.